Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Unveiled

Walter Fritz, owner of the GJW (photo credit).
Wow. The most recent issue of The Atlantic has an incredible story uncovering the formerly anonymous owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus. His name is Walter Fritz, a German-born man who now lives in Florida with his, shall we say, eccentric wife. Fritz denies forging the papyrus, but the reporter of the story seems unconvinced. And for good reason.

The article is long but well worth reading. It gets stranger at almost every turn. It’s a fine piece of detective work by the journalist, Ariel Sabar.

Here’s a clip from near the end:
One thing did become clear, though. When we first started talking, Fritz had claimed that he had no stake in the papyrus’s message. But I began to see that he in fact cared deeply. As a teenager he wanted to become a priest, he said, but he later came to believe that much of Catholic teaching was “bullcrap.” Particularly flawed was the Church’s claim that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were truer accounts of Jesus’s life than the Gnostic Gospels.

He pointed to the fact that almost no papyri bearing the canonical Gospels have been carbon-dated, because such testing would cause physical damage to the New Testament’s seminal manuscripts—damage that institutions like the Vatican Library would never countenance. But with the new ink tests at Columbia—the ones King had told me about—scientists can date papyri without damaging them. Fritz said these tests could well show that most of the Gnostic Gospels were written before the canonical Gospels, making them better witnesses to the historical Jesus—a view that virtually no serious scholars share.

“All that discussion that the canonical Gospels were way before anything else—that’s utter bulls**t,” Fritz told me. “The Gnostic texts that allow women a discipleship and see Jesus more as a spiritual person and not as a demigod—these texts are probably the more relevant ones.”
My favorite line—and there are many good ones in this story—has to be this one:
He [Fritz] had even more scorn for critics of the Jesus’s-wife papyrus, deriding them as “county level” scholars from the “University of Eastern Pee-Pee Land” who think their nitpicking of Coptic phrases can compete with scientific tests at places like Columbia University and MIT that have yielded no physical proof of forgery.
I trust Christian will be updating his CV accordingly!

Read the whole thing here


  1. What a wonderful story! He is incorrect though because the MoB has carbonated some of their Christian papyri, I remember Josephine Dru gave a talk on this...

  2. I think that's the best typo yet, even better than the time on an exam I wrote that John's gospel had a "medicated Christology"!

  3. continues to have the misleading statement 'Testing Indicates "Gospel of Jesus's Wife" Papyrus Fragment to be Ancient'

  4. Somebody want to email Sabar about doing a follow-up piece on Secret Mark?

  5. Brilliant bit of investigative journalism!

  6. Karen King doesn't come out of this looking very good at all. Something tells me she's having a crap day.

  7. There are a lot of people getting honorary degrees for basically nothing. But this Ariel Sabar has really done something important for scholarship. Just a thought.